The Long Beach Pike

The_pike_long_beachThe Pike was an amusement zone that ran parallel to the Long Beach shoreline between the municipal pier at Pine Ave. to the south and Chestnut Place to the north. Adjacent to The Pike, The Silver Spray Pier, with its Jack Rabbit Racer roller coaster, extended out over the waves.

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July 1926

The Pike had been around since 1902, when the Pacific Electric Railway’s red cars reached Long Beach from Los Angeles.

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The double-decked pedestrian-only municipal pier extended from Pine Avenue. It was used mainly for strolling and fishing. This c. 1926 view shows the new Breakers Hotel (right).

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The building at right is the 1905 Municipal Auditorium. Located at the foot of Pine Avenue next to the pier, it was built out over the ocean with an open arcade on the 2nd floor. The 6-story building on the inland side is the 1919 Markwell Building, which in 1926 was bought out by Andrew T. Jergin’s Jergin’s Oil Co. and became the Jergin Building.

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The Pike’s attractions changed over time. The Rialto Theater (right) opened in 1917 in a building that formerly housed a café. The tall structure is the sky-high Bamboo Slide. The souvenir shop next door is selling Kodak film.

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The classical-columned Long Beach Bath House and plunge (swimming pool) was a landmark of the Pike. Just beyond is Lipton’s jewelry store, the Looff Hippodrome and Hoyt’s vaudeville theater (renamed The Strand by the end of the decade).

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The Long Beach plunge was one of several promoted by the Southern California Plunge Bathing Association as an aid to health. Thanks to the modern indoor plunge, swimming could be enjoyed year round, day or night. 4-1-1926.

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The courtyard of the Bath House showing the Bee Stand popcorn vendor (later George’s). The curved storefront with the awning between the staircases housed a cigar stand. The double-awninged stand had housed Pearl Rogers’ embroidery shop since 1922. LAPL.

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One of the electric trams that cruised The Pike.

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It’s doubtful anyone actually counted them, but the midway’s “Walk of a Thousand Lights” lit up the Pike at night all the way to Chestnut Place.

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In the thick of the midway. The Majestic Ballroom (in later years renamed the Lido) had originally been a skating rink. The beach towns typically flouted Los Angeles “blue laws” that prohibited dancing on Sundays. Hoyt’s Theater is just beyond, with the tower of the Breakers Hotel peeking out behind the flagpole. On the ocean side: the arrow-shaped sign of Lipton’s Jewelry; Benjamin F. Simond’s Aquarium, “The finest collection of ocean fish in America;” and Cunningham’s lunch counter.

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Charles Looff built the Pike’s merry-go-round in 1911. Housed in its own building, the Looff Hippodrome, Charles’ widow Anna operated the attraction after his death in 1918. LAPL

The Silver Spray Pier

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The Jack Rabbit Racer rollercoaster operated from 1915-1930. Stunt motorcycle rider “Reckless Ross” Millman operated his barrel-shaped “wall of death” race track near the entrance.

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The Dodg’em cars (right) were a long-running attraction on the pier. LAPL

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The north end of the Pike at Chestnut Place c. 1926 showing Silver Spray Pier, the Victory Fountain and the Virginia Hotel’s tennis courts. LAPL.

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The Victory Fountain was a brand new addition to the north end of the Pike in September 1926 in remembrance of World War I veterans. Designed by Edwardes Sproat, it stood 45-ft. high and was equipped with electric lights that flashed in time to the water’s spray. At the top was a mirrored ball that reflected the lights at night. Postcard view and 9-26-26 LA Times.

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The red-roofed 1908 Virginia Hotel. It closed in 1932 and was demolished.

In just a few years, the Pike area would change drastically. March 1929 saw the beginning of dredging and fill work for the construction of a new municipal auditorium and concrete horseshoe-shaped pier to the south that replaced the old wooden structures. The Pike and Silver Spray Pier also suffered damage in the 1933 Long Beach earthquake. The amusement zone was reinvented as “Nu-Pike” in the 1950s.

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